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Published: Tuesday, 4/13/2010

Sylvania's Autism Walk set for Saturday

Several dozen students in the Sylvania high schools' medical technology programs plan to walk around the running track at Northview High School on Saturday to raise money to support families of autistic children.

Proceeds from the Autism Walk, now in its third year, will benefit children in the Sylvania schools as well as clients of the Great Lakes Center for Autism and Autism Speaks.

Registration costs $10 for students and $25 for adults, and participants also solicit pledges from friends and family to support their efforts. Last year's Autism Walk raised about $2,000, said Chelsea Lyell, an organizer of this year's event.

The Autism Walk has received donations of T-shirts and door prizes for participants, and entertainment and light refreshments will be offered during the event, which is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

As of Sunday, Miss Lyell said, about 30 participants had registered.

"We are hoping for a tremendous turnout at this fund-raiser. However, we cannot make this successful without help from the community," an announcement from the medical technology classes said.

Not only can autism diagnoses be emotionally devastating for families, but the comprehensive care that many autism patients require can be financially crippling. The Autism Walk is intended to help ease that financial burden for local families.

Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that typically lasts for a lifetime and impairs a patient's ability to communicate with and relate to others. It is associated with rigid routines and repetitive behaviors, such as obsessively arranging objects or following very specific routines, but symptoms and behaviors have a broad range of severity among individuals.

It is part of a group of disorders known as autism-spectrum disorders. With 1 in 125 individuals now diagnosed with autism, it is more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes, and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome combined. It crosses all racial, social, and ethnic lines, but is four times more common in boys than in girls.

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